I think of myself as a generally positive person.
Not Mary Poppins positive but realistically optimistic at least. As a Mom there are many occasions (often mornings) when Fake it Until You Make It is the order of the day. Even if I’m not feeling it, I can’t give in to the mopes, so much to my children’s chagrin, we do a little dance, sing a song of Cheerios, make up poetry about blueberries. And soon they are giggling and it’s time to find socks and backpacks and head out into the world together.
But other times I find myself careening down into a dark, negative place in my mind for really no reason at all, and then vaguely torturing myself over that emotion and thus wasting even more time feeling angry. It’s not a state I enjoy and that’s why I found lots to love in the fascinating and inspiring book, “You Are a Badass: How to Sop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life,” by Jen Sincero.
Among many pearls of wisdom in this book, she writes, “Trade in your drama about how you can’t have what you want for the grateful expectation that miracles will walk into your life, and the more commonplace those miracles will become.”
Jen also writes about ‘raising your frequency’ which is complicated, but in short, it’s about sending out positive energy which you will then attract, and staying away from things that bring you down and are a buzz kill to your good vibrations, literally or figuratively.
Practice gratitude, notice miracles, don’t invent drama, do good and be positive and it all comes back around.
These lessons were put to the test earlier this week. On Tuesday I put Son #2 in the stroller to go pick up Son #1 from school. It was cold and our alley was a bumpy, slushy mess and of course there was a ‘discussion’ about appropriate outer wear for a 4-year-old in 24 degree Chicago weather (before wind chill, people).
We survived the trek to school, but as we began the return trip I noticed that the garage door opener was missing from my pocket. My mind raced ahead to all the implications of this issue, big and small: When we got home we’d have to trek around the unshoveled block to the front door to get the boys inside where they’d leave slushy footprints all over, then I’d have to drag the stroller around the side of the house and up the garage stairs and now it was snowing again and the wind was really picking up. The boys were whining for hot chocolate and I haven’t started dinner and DAMNIT we’ll have to spend another $30 to replace the opener which I JUST HAD 10 MINUTES AGO.
But then I stopped. I’d just had the thing, yes, and now I didn’t. It was OK. I’d find it or I wouldn’t. But maybe, just maybe, I would. And if – OK when – I did, then wouldn’t I be annoyed that I’d spent this lovely snowy walk home with my boys silently boiling about how stupid I was to lose the thing when instead we could be planning marshmallow rations and catching snowflakes on our tongues?
The snowflakes drifted down like tiny white flower petals, invisible as they fell from the slate gray sky. After some discussion, we settled on four marshmallows each, which Davey then negotiated to four IN the cup and another four On The Side. The boys made deep tracks in the snow with their boots and marveled at the treads in the pristine snow along the sidewalks.
When we arrived at our garage door, there was a small black object in a drift nearby. The opener: Somehow uncrushed by traffic in the alley. We did a happy dance together in the garage as we stomped the snow off our boots. Maybe we could have just a few extra marshmallows to celebrate, Lucas offered. His brother cheered.
Little miracles everywhere.
I recently got around to reading Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, the sweet story of a boy with a facial deformity who teaches his family and community at large about grace and kindness, simply by not giving into ugliness and hate and fear. “Choose Kind” has become a mantra, and even a major motions picture. It’s a lovely story in a time of so many terrible realities.
My friend Abby often tells me, “You’re so hard on yourself!” This comment usually follows a self-deprecating story that I tell about how my house or my kids or both need washing, how I need to work out, how I yelled at my kids, general #momfail behaviors. “Give yourself a break,” she adds. “You’re doing just fine I think.”
Badass also addresses self-love. “Imagine what our world would be like,” she writes, “if everyone loved themselves so much that they weren’t threatened by other people’s opinions or skin colors or sexual preferences or talents or education or possessions or lack of possessions or religious beliefs or customs or their general tendency to just be whoever the hell they are.”
As we snuggled together on the couch with our mugs for some Angry Birds and cocoa, I thought of the snowy walk home. I realized that we’d had one of our best walks ever and I that I’d hardly noticed the snow or the wind. I felt more peaceful than I had felt in a long time.
I realized that by rising above negativity I was not only able to be more kind and gentle to my children, something I always try to do, but I was also able to be more kind to myself. I hope I can find that strength inside to do it again the next time adversity rears its head.
In the mean time, I’ll keep an eye out for everyday miracles, big and small. And I’ll choose kindness, with a side of marshmallows, whenever possible.